Thursday, November 10, 2005

IL-06, the Hackett Model, and the DCCC

I you haven't heard, it looks like there will be a trio in the Democratic primary for IL-06. From The Hill:
Democrats are urgently seeking an alternative candidate to Christine Cegelis (D) in Illinois’s 6th District, as worries mount that Cegelis doesn’t have the money to beat state Sen. Peter Roskam (R) in 2006.

Time is of the essence, Democrats said. Dec. 19 is the filing deadline for the March 14 primary.

While Democrats will not acknowledge publicly that they are frustrated with Cegelis, they have made it known they are open to other contenders’ jumping into the race.

Bill Burton, spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), has said the committee has met with other potential candidates.

A Democratic aide on Capitol Hill said simply: “The Democratic field in Illinois-6 is still open.”


But Republicans say they suspect that Democrats, either from Illinois or Washington, are behind the survey as they seek to make the case that the district is “purple,” not Republican red, and encourage other candidates to enter the primary against Cegelis.

An Illinois GOP campaign aide said Democrats are banking on Tammy Duckworth, a former Black Hawk helicopter pilot who was critically injured in Iraq; she is a double amputee.

Duckworth’s candidacy, the campaign aide said, could be modeled after that of Democrat Paul Hackett, an Iraq war veteran who narrowly lost to Republican Jean Schmidt in Ohio’s strongly Republican 2nd District.

I'm a bit disillusioned by this news. Cegelis has volunteers and grassroots support, and had a great response to on-line fundraising. But now that she paved the way, providing a rallying point for local Dems in the district, the state and national party seem to have tossed her aside in favor of another candidate. A candidate who will fit the Paul Hackett model, and may not even reside in the district. It appears that money and the elusive "electability" have trumped Cegelis' campaign.

This hits home for me, and I feel defeated. I saw the party do this to Dean who has turned out to be correct on nearly every count they called him crazy for. Now, after pushing a self fulfilling prophesy that Cegelis was a poor fundraiser via months of a whisper campaign that a nationally supported party heavyweight would enter the race, they seem to have undercut her with an unknown candidate that they appear to be giving the backing Cegelis never was given.

This is the key for me about Cegelis' lack of fundraising. If her campaign had the backing of the DCCC, what would her fundraising number look like today? Archpundit also point to Cegelis burn rate as being very high, and it is. But I still wonder if this assumes Cegelis is overspending based on percentage of her meger fundraising, instead of looking what she would have spent anyway. Her burn rate might have well been lower if she had party support helping her raise more. But it seems silly to me to compare her burn rate to that of Roskam's, who is not even campaigning and has no primary, the full support of the ever well funding Republican party, and who still spent more money than Cegelis did last quarter. Bean's numbers are a different story, but I recall she had the support and backing of the national party. However, Archpundit has more understanding than I do in these matters, so I could be wrong. But it still seems like the wrong measuring stick to me.

The point of this rambling post is that I once again question the Party I find myself supporting. It just seems to be about money and the good 'ol boys network. Who you know and who you blow. I'd guess we saw this with Hackett as well as there seemed little interest in his campaign until it looked like he might actually win. Even though support and help was given then, it would have had a far greater impact if given sooner. Duckworth may be a great candidate, with great Democratic values, but at the moment she appears to be more a puppet for the national party more concerned with electability than actual in-district support.

This is my contention regarding Cegelis' campaign. She's not only fighting a well supported, well financed Republican, but her own party at the same time. Comments that she is a poor candidate and can't fundraise ignore the fact that few candidates could run a full time campaign and fundraise effectively with no support and actual below the radar opposition of the national party. Even with strong local support, which Cegelis enjoys, the national party dwarfs local party influence in resources, donor base, and expertise. The locals don't stand a chance.

My feeling at the moment is that we in the Blogosphere can push all we want for a candidate, raise money, work hard, and really compete on a shoestring budget with well funded and well supported Republicans. But our local candidates will get no support from the Party, and if we do get the district primed for taking a seat, the DCCC will then replace our candidate with their well funded, well supported candidate, pat us on the head, and say "we'll take it from here."

I guess this is politics. I guess this is also why 50% of people vote.